I wanted to share a savory recipe for St. Patrick's Day along with my mint chocolate cookie bars, not because I think a lot of people cook something festive on March 17th, but because it was an excuse to cook with beer, which I've been learning is great in recipes!
It took me a very long time to like beer, but I've now reached the point where I choose craft beer over most other drinks. I started with pale ales and Belgian beers, then finally learned to appreciate hops, but am still trying to enjoy dark beers and stouts. Guinness is probably one of the last beers I would choose to drink, but one of the first beers I'd choose for cooking! It adds great depth to chocolate desserts, and now I've learned that it's also great in savory recipes like this soup.
While most cheese and beer soups are made with cheddar cheese and a pale ale, I wanted to make mine more Saint Patricksy (yes that's a word) by using Dubliner cheese and Guinness stout. According to Wikipedia, Dubliner cheese "combines the sharpness of mature cheddar, the nuttiness of Swiss cheese, and the bite of Parmesan", and it also melts well, so I thought it would be great in a Guinness cheese soup. If you can't find it though, any sharp cheddar cheese should work well.
The first time I made this, I actually used some Guinness cheddar cheese that I'd found on sale. It definitely gave the soup a strong Guinness flavour that was really complex and interesting, but you'd have to be a big Guinness lover to enjoy the soup! Yesterday I tried it with the Dubliner cheese and it was much milder and the Guinness was much harder to detect, which I liked. The soup is cheesy, thick, and comforting, without actually being too unhealthy compared to other cheese soups because it uses milk instead of cream and I cut the amount of cheese way down since I was using a strong tasting cheese. This was an easy dinner to prepare and Ryan and I both really loved it. Ryan wished there was a bit more of a Guinness flavour, so I suggested that you could probably add a splash of Guinness at the end if you want the stout taste to be stronger, since a lot of it gets cooked down earlier on.
Guinness & Dubliner Cheese Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Guinness stout (or more for stronger flavour)
1 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth (beef broth would be a good substitute!)
1 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
1/4 pound (or 1 cup loosely packed shredded) Dubliner cheese (or sharp cheddar cheese if desired)
Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and cook until softened, stirring often, about 15-20 minutes. If vegetables start to brown too quickly (before they’re softened), add a splash of chicken broth to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the beer and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will be very thick and sticky at this point. Add the chicken broth, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard powder, and let simmer over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The soup will thicken and reduce slightly as it simmers.
Remove the pot from the heat and transfer soup mixture to a blender. Make sure the blender is only about 1/3 to 1/2 full and remove the centre piece of the lid to allow steam to escape (but cover with a cloth or towel to avoid splatters). Puree until smooth, then transfer back to the pot.